The legal sector is reeling this morning at the news that Britain has voted to exit the European Union, as legal IT heads urge rational reflection.

While businesses are still processing the news, which came as an unwelcome surprise to many in the City – the only region in England that voted to remain in Europe – at Peppermint Technology, founder and CEO Arlene Adams said: “I will say I’m surprised by the vote – but know I’m not alone. The one thing this referendum reinforces is that change is the only constant. More than ever this shows law firms have to be robust. They can’t rely on others to predict their future. They have to accept it’s down to them.

“Whatever your personal vote, as business leaders our responsibility is to our employees and customers to make the most of our environment. It’s our role to reach for the positive and play our part in protecting the great in Great Britain – our efforts will continue to go into ensuring we make our businesses strong and robust, and that we continue to deliver success for our customers.”

Shares have plunged and privately many leading figures in the legal IT world have given an early emotional response to the decision to exit, with one MD at a leading international software supplier simply saying: “We’re screwed.” Another well-known figure in the UK legal technology sector said: “Personally I’m gutted for my children and all their friends who voted to stay.”

At contract lawyer provider Obelisk, founder and CEO Dana Denis-Smith tweeted: “Most tech is built offshore where there are coders and skills we simply don’t have here. Will set back advance.”

A number of outsider business heads are taking a sanguine stance. Robert Fraser, director at Trinogy Systems based in Sydney, predicts that there will be less fallout than many are forecasting. “As we are part of the legacy commonwealth I doubt I will be refused entry into the UK and our business there will grow based on the service we provide. If it’s better service than our competitors it will grow, if it’s not we will not survive,” he said. “Our clients are across many sectors, if one dips another will rise, and so it may be with the economy generally,” he said.

Adams added: ” When I set up Peppermint 6 years ago I felt strongly that law firms need to embrace technology as a way of ensuring they could compete and thrive. Never more than today is that true. Law firms need to set a strategy to build their own success and their own future – whatever the market environment – and that strategy will always centre on them being the law firm that their clients want them to be. That’s how you protect your business in an uncertain environment, and for that very reason technology has never been more important.”

More to follow.